A Maltese Catholic woman who is the co-founder of an Catholic group for parents of LGBTQ+ people recently implored the Church’s leadership to affirm LGBTQ+ people and support those who defend them.
In an op-ed for Newsbook, Joseanne Peregin, who co-founded Drachma Parents’ Group Malta, reflected on her time participating in the group and lamented the pain that families with LGBTQ+ members experience because of the negative messages and attitudes of of Catholic leaders.
“I implore our Cardinal, Bishops, priests and religious to support those of us who are struggling to defend the lives of LGBTIQ people,” she wrote.” The lack of positive action or affirming language by the Church regarding LGBTIQ people is pitiful…. the paths that lead to sin are many but the sin of omission is a grave sin indeed!”
Peregin shared some of the tragic results of the negative rhetoric:
“I listened with a heavy heart, to the agony of an elderly gentleman who recently painfully endured the tragic loss of his exemplary Catholic adult son, who took his own life a few weeks ago. It was confirmed to me that the Vatican’s declaration by the CDF last March against same-sex union blessings, was a final straw.”
Examples such as this highlight the urgent need for church leaders to rethink their approach, she said:
“It is high time Church authorities see what damage some priests and educators are causing whenever vulnerable LGBTIQ people are being pushed to the brink by harmful words. And when during confession or guidance sessions LGBTIQ people show they’ve reached their tipping point, they should remain accompanied until they get the necessary help because every life is precious.”
Peregin notes how abandoned many LGBTQ+ people and families feel:
“These parents who have attended our Drachma meetings, are good church people who gave all to their children. As dedicated builders of the so-called domestic church, they feel utterly hurt and angry at how their Church has let them down so miserably! How instead of accompanying their beloved son, he was left at the roadside without receiving that most vital help from Mother Church…
“Our church is letting us down! It is not doing enough to assess the damage in the wake of such deplorable statements and oppressive instructions. It is not realizing the impact on family lives when it gives out a license to further oppress LGBTIQ people.”
Statements such as the ban on blessing same-gender unions that the Vatican issued in March can lead to “increased suicide numbers” and “faith renunciation” among LGBTQ+ Catholics.
Peregin’s maternal perspective highlights an idea that some church leaders seem to have missed: “Love in itself is a blessing!” She recognizes the hypocrisy of a Church that aspires to be a “reflection of a merciful God” but ends up “Putting the lid on the love of any person in such a harsh way” which is the same as “telling them we don’t care about you.”
Joseanne and her husband Joseph Peregin, have long been influential leaders in the Catholic LGBTQ movement. Joseanne spoke at the “Ways of Love” conference in Rome in 2014. A Maltese bishop who attended the Synod on the Family in Rome in 2014 acknowledged that it was his conversations with the Peregins and other Drachma parents that made him take a more positive approach to LGBTQ issues when he gave a talk to the synod. The couple wrote a Bondings 2.0 blog post for the Feast of the Holy Family in 2015. In 2020, when the Archdiocese of Detroit sanctioned a Catholic parents group and the Dignity chapter in that city, Drachma responded with an open letter penned by the Peregins.
May God continue to bless their efforts and those of all Catholic parents of LGBTQ people!
—Beth Mueller Stewart, New Ways Ministry, September 14, 2021